Tips For Out-Of-State Living From A Former Non-Floridian

21% of students at UF are out-of-state, which is about 12,000 of all the students on campus. We all know that the out-of-state tuition is higher and that those that choose to come here that aren’t from Florida don’t have the luxury of Florida Pre-Paid or Bright Futures scholarships, which is all true. UF claims that out-of-state students, for the 2020-2021 school year, should expect to pay $22,278 more than in-state students. As absurd as this sounds (coming from a person who is confronted with this cost, I can tell you it is, indeed, absurd) this is probably the simplest difference. At least students know when they apply or commit to enroll that they will have to pay more, but they don’t tell students about the little things that students from Florida don’t need to think about. 

Three years ago, when I was trying desperately to make the decision of where to go to school, I was torn between going to my in-state university, the University of Delaware, and UF. On one hand, UD was closer to home and it would be less of a hassle to go there, but on the other hand, UF was an altogether higher caliber university (although I honestly didn’t know just how much higher until I got here). Despite how far I was going to be from home, I decided to go to UF. When I committed to this university, the biggest hurdle I was anticipating was the drive to Florida or the higher price tag for out-of-state tuition. But beware incoming fellow non-Floridians, there is a lot more to think about. 

Cars

Having my car with me in Gainesville was a no-brainer because I needed a way to get around and get groceries and whatnot. But I didn’t think about what having a car registered in Delaware but parked in Florida would mean. When my registration was about to expire, I was kind of stumped. I couldn’t just go to the local Tax Collector and get it registered. So, I needed to fill out the renewal paperwork and mail it back to my family in Delaware, who then took it to the DMV there, who would then mail me back my new registration sticker. It was a hassle. I couldn’t just drive the 14 hours home, so this was the easiest way. I also couldn’t just drive to my home county, see my family for the weekend and get it all sorted out. 

So, every two years, this was what I had to do. It wasn’t until this semester when I officially became a Florida resident that I realized just how much easier it is to live in the same state that my paperwork says I live in. Now, I actually have my car registered in this state. A small victory to some, but to me, it was a big deal. 

Banking

This might not be a big deal for you if you don’t have your own credit cards or debit cards, but it was for me. I neglected to tell my bank that I was going to school 1,000 miles away from the address they had listed for me, so I got a very concerned call telling me someone had stolen my credit card when it was really just me. So make sure to notify your bank that you will be temporarily moving so they don’t cut you off. Doing it beforehand is a lot easier than when you’re in line at Target buying your dorm décor (true story). 

While we’re on the subject, bring your checks with you too. You never know when you’ll have to write a check for something. 

Identification documents

It’s a good idea to keep important documents like birth certificates, passports, insurance information and social security cards with you. You’ll need copies of them, sometimes originals, if you get a job, or sometimes, college paperwork requires them. Although it seems dangerous to have them with you when we all don’t seem adult enough to be responsible for them, documents like these are safer with you than they are being mailed from home. 

When I bought a scooter, the seller mailed me the key and title in the mail, but when I got it, the key was missing cause it fell out of the envelope. Trust me, keeping these documents safe and delivering them in person is safer than having your parents mail them to you when you need them. It’s also a lot less stressful. 

Mail

Although people our age don’t get much mail, and anything of real importance is sent through email nowadays, forwarding your mailing address is still important. Bank statements, college forms, transportation decals, voter registration information, ballot information all go through the mail, and you could be missing these if you don’t forward your address. Despite not being a legal resident of Florida, you can still temporarily forward your mail, and change it back easily. Students lucky enough to live in-state can simply go home whenever they have mail, but out-of-staters aren’t so fortunate. 

Voting

I think this past election has shown us just how important voting is, especially voting by mail, but it’s also showed us how easy it is to vote via absentee ballot. I’ve done this in each election I missed while I was still a Delaware resident, and I still got my vote counted and my voice heard even though I wasn’t living at home. The earlier you set this up, the easier it will be to vote come election time. The voting-by-mail requirements and instructions are different for each state, but usually, you can set it up such that you can get a ballot automatically sent to you for each election, so you won’t miss an opportunity to vote. 

Storage

Under my roommate’s bed, everything is clean and organized with just a bin or two. Under my bed is a backstock of sweaters and boots for the winter weather, potting soil and fertilizer for my succulents, suitcases, seasonal decorations and old school notebooks – all stuff I would normally take home and let my mom deal with but can’t because my family lives a thousand miles away. If you’re like me and always wants to be prepared, which means lots of supplies, get yourself some good storage bins. I like these under bed bins from Target. It might be a bit onerous to have to store all this stuff that’s out of season or rarely used, but you’ll be glad you had it when you need it. 

Luckily for me, my family made the move to Florida and I was able to claim in-state residency this past semester. Although tuition was the largest factor in that decision, all of these other smaller reasons really pile up. Going out-of-state for college is a big deal, and state universities don’t exactly make it easy for students to make the move. So, take these into account this college acceptance season if you’re thinking of coming here.